- Two separate bear attacks in past week injure two
- Bear attack victim’s family asks campers to take precautions to help keep bears wild and ensure public safety
- Public invited to grand opening of Northern Arizona Shooting Range
- Arizona Game and Fish lifts moratorium on rotenone use
- Citations issued for quagga contaminated boats
- Sign up now for bighorn sheep workshop and Canyon Lake viewing
- Comment deadline nears for reptile, raptor, amphibian and mollusk regulations
- Regulations provide quick answers to boating equipment needs
- Enter your best photos in the wildlife photo contest
Two separate bear attacks in past week injure two
Two people were injured over the past week, one seriously, in two separate bear attacks about 12 miles east of Payson, Ariz.
On June 24, a Tempe man was severely injured when a bear attacked him in his tent at Ponderosa Campground in the Tonto National Forest, just off Highway 260. The attack occurred at approximately 5 a.m. The victim suffered lacerations and bites to his head, arm and legs. He was helicoptered to the Phoenix area for medical treatment.
On June 21, a bear entered an unfinished cabin in the Thompson Draw II subdivision near Tonto Village, about a mile from Ponderosa Campground, and bit a sleeping Glendale man on the leg. His injuries were non-life-threatening.
Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife officers and personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services have been searching for the bear or bears involved in the attacks. Three bears have been lethally removed from the area and the carcasses submitted for forensic and rabies testing. Rabies tests conducted by the Arizona Department of Health Services came back negative for all three bears on June 27.
DNA analysis conducted by the nationally-recognized Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory determined that two of the three black bears removed were not involved in the most recent attack at Ponderosa Campground on June 24. A lack of DNA material from the first two victims’ belongings resulted in inconclusive analysis on the first two attacks. Testing of bear hair samples from the most recent attack did confirm that the offending bear in that case is a male. Additional DNA analysis is being conducted using different samples from that incident in an attempt to arrive at a more conclusive decision.
The search for additional bears in the area continues. “Extensive efforts are being made to locate the animal or animals involved in these attacks and remove them for the public’s safety, which is our top priority,” said Rod Lucas, regional supervisor for Game and Fish.
The U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed Ponderosa Campground and two others in the vicinity—Christopher Creek Campground and Sharp Creek Campground—for public safety. The closure order will remain in effect until July 15, when it will be re-evaluated.
The June 24 attack in Ponderosa Campground was the second incident there in the past month. On May 31, a bear entered a tent at the campground and clawed a woman. Her injuries were non-life-threatening. Despite tracking and trapping efforts by Game and Fish and Wildlife Services’ personnel, that bear was never trapped. The U.S. Forest Service temporarily closed Ponderosa Campground after that incident and reopened it June 12.
With the state’s drought and scarce wildlife food resources, more and more wildlife are moving into areas that are on the fringe of wildlands, looking for food. Bears are particularly attracted to areas where humans are because of the often easy access to garbage, food and gardens.
It is important that outdoor recreationists be “bear aware.” Secure all food sources, cooking gear and trash well away from camps and tents when recreating in bear areas. Bears are attracted to areas with dumpsters, trash bins and campsites with food.
Bear attacks on humans are rare. This is only the 10th documented bear attack in Arizona since 1990, but the third this year.
Bear attack victim’s family asks campers to take precautions to help keep bears wild and ensure public safety
The family of Arizona’s most recent bear attack victim is asking campers and outdoor recreationists to take precautions when camping outdoors in bear country. The male victim was attacked on June 24 while camping in the Ponderosa Campground east of Payson.
While the investigation shows that the victim had taken the proper precautions to secure his food and garbage, Arizona Game and Fish Department officers believe that the bear responsible for the attack had already been habituated and conditioned to people and came to expect to find food or garbage in human-inhabited areas.
The black bear, which is the only bear species found in Arizona, is considered the least aggressive of North America’s bears. Black bears are normally shy, bashful animals that seek solitude in densely vegetated areas. Although the black bear population in the state is estimated to be near 3,000 animals, bears are rarely seen and when they are spotted, they typically run from humans.
That typical bear behavior though can be altered by the influences of humans, and those bears can become dangerous and problematic. Bears that become accustomed to and unafraid of traffic, noise and human activity, and particularly those that begin to associate people with food sources, are more likely to become involved in a human-wildlife conflict. A bear that enters a campground has already demonstrated habituation, and even a small bear can overpower an adult.
“Game and Fish is asking the public to do their part to keep bears wild and afraid of humans by not being complacent with food sources and garbage bins in areas where bears are known to live,” said Brian Wakeling, game branch chief and a wildlife biologist with extensive experience with black bears. “The latest attack victim appeared to take the appropriate precautions, but this bear had already become used to people and expected to find a food source in human-occupied areas.”
Arizona Game and Fish uses a protocol to determine when a bear has become a public safety threat and must be removed. The protocol uses criteria such as the bear’s history of human encounters, age and sex. Depending on those factors, some bears can be trapped and relocated, but those deemed a public safety threat must be destroyed. Studies strongly indicate that male bears are the most likely to be responsible for unprovoked predatory attacks on people. Females tend to be more timid with smaller territories than males.
“We ask all residents and visitors to Arizona to take personal responsibility to not only protect yourself and your family, but to help minimize the chances that human behavior could change a bear and create a future public safety threat,” said Wakeling. “Bears can weigh in excess of 300 pounds and because they are such large, powerful predators, the department must have little tolerance for bears that enter urban areas, raid garbage or frequent recreation areas.”
The area north of Mount Ord and the area surrounding Payson provide some of the best habitat in the state and has one of the highest densities of black bears. Bear attacks are rare, with only 10 documented attacks in Arizona since 1990, although three have occurred in the past month.
Game and Fish reminds outdoor recreationists that these recent bear incidents are localized, and that if they take steps to be “bear aware,” it is still safe to enjoy the outdoors.
Drought conditions are likely a reason more wildlife, including bears, are coming into campgrounds and urban areas in search of food. People are reminded to take these immediate steps to minimize bear encounters:
• Keep a clean camp. Store food items and trash away from your tent or sleeping area.
• Wash up before going to bed to eliminate odors.
• In residential areas in bear country, keep food waste in a secure location such as a garage, shed or bear-proof container.
• Residents should put trash out the morning of collection (never the night before) and clean your trash container regularly.
• Hang bird feeders at least 10 feet above ground and away from structures. Use a tray to catch spills. Remove bird feeders if a bear is in the area.
• Be aware of your surroundings. If you hear of a bear in your area or see a yellow Game and Fish sign that says “Advisory – Bear Frequenting Area,” take all necessary precautions to prevent attracting it, including securing all trash, bird and squirrel feeders, and any other potential food attractant.
Other potential food attractants include pet food, uncleaned BBQs, and even orchard fruit on the ground. The food odors attract bears that have a very keen sense of smell. Even an empty food wrapper can attract a bear from a long distance.
If you do encounter a bear, try to scare the bear away by making yourself look as large as possible, making loud noises and throwing objects towards it. Do not run. In the rare event of a black bear attack, fight back aggressively.
For more information or questions on living with bears, visit the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.
Public invited to grand opening of Northern Arizona Shooting Range
The public is invited to the grand opening of the Northern Arizona Shooting Range, located east of Flagstaff, on Saturday, July 7, 2012.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with an honor guard presentation of colors by officers from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona Department of Public Safety, followed by remarks from Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles, Game and Fish Commissioners Jack Husted and John W. Harris, Northern Arizona Shooting Foundation President Bill Gow, former Game and Fish Commissioner Michael Golightly, U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, Arizona House Representative Tom Chabin, and other invited dignitaries.
Following the remarks, there will be a traditional Hopi blessing by representatives from the Hopi Tribe, and then the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the range.
Following the ceremony, the public will have the opportunity to shoot .22 rifles on the 100-yard range and try out archery on the 50-yard range. Loaner .22 rifles, ammunition and archery gear will be available for this activity.
Shotgun shooters can sign up for the National Sporting Clay Association registered sporting clays events or the fun shoots. Registration for these events opens at 9 a.m. for the Saturday shoots, which begin at 11 a.m. On Sunday, shooting events begin at 10 a.m., and registration opens at 8 a.m. The NSCA registered shoots cost $50 for 100 targets, including fees. Sporting clays fun shoots are $30 for 100 targets. Some 12-gauge shells will be available for $6 per box. Cash or check only for entry fees and shells. A food vendor will also be on site Saturday. Visit www.azgfd.gov/ctc2/documents/Julyyourawomenflyer2.pdf for more information.
The opening of the Northern Arizona Shooting Range is the culmination of a long-term effort by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and shooting sports enthusiasts to establish a public shooting range in the Flagstaff vicinity. Northern Arizona residents had been without a rifle and pistol shooting range since 1968. In 1994, closures of the local shotgun and archery ranges resulted in one of Arizona’s largest communities not having a designated place for recreational/competitive shooting and law enforcement training.
In July 2010, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission purchased the 160-acre Foster Ranch in Coconino County. The ranch property was an ideal venue for establishing a much-needed local public shooting range to serve surrounding communities’ law enforcement training, hunter education, hunter sight-in, and recreational and competitive shooting of firearms and archery.
In March 2012, the Arizona Game and Fish Department signed an agreement with the Northern Arizona Shooting Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, to operate the range.
The Northern Arizona Shooting Range is located approximately seven miles southwest of Winona. Take I-40 east from Flagstaff about 10 miles to the Winona Exit (Exit 211). Head south on the Winona Ranch Road for about two miles to Forest Road 128. Take a right (west) on Forest Road 128 and follow it for about four miles. The range is on the left (east) side of the road at Forest Road 128A. Follow the signs.
Arizona Game and Fish lifts moratorium on rotenone use
Recommendations from blue-ribbon advisory panel incorporated into revamped procedures
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has lifted its self-imposed moratorium on the use of rotenone or other registered piscicides (pesticides used to kill undesired fish) in fisheries management projects after incorporating process improvements recommended by a blue-ribbon advisory panel.
Rotenone is used in limited applications for native fish recovery projects or aquatic invasive species control. It is currently the only piscicide commercially available for use in removing fish for management purposes. It has been used as a fisheries management tool in North America since the 1930s and has been registered in the U.S. as a piscicide since 1947.
Among the Arizona stream renovation projects in which piscicides have been used are the initial renovation of Fossil Creek (restoration of native roundtail and headwater chub), as well as Ash Creek (restoration of Gila trout), and Bear Wallow and Fish creeks (restoration of Apache trout).
Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles established the moratorium in February 2011 so that concerns expressed by some members of the public over perceptions of environmental or human health impacts from rotenone could be more thoroughly understood and addressed.
Voyles established the blue ribbon panel, called the Rotenone Review Advisory Committee, in June 2011 to scientifically examine all aspects of rotenone. The committee, made up of more than 20 experts from government agencies, private entities and nongovernmental organizations, examined an exhaustive quantity of information and confirmed much of the Game and Fish Department’s understanding of the use, risk and benefit of rotenone. View the committee’s final report.
“Notably, the committee agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that rotenone can be used safely without harm to the environment or unacceptable risk to the public, including the concern over Parkinson’s Disease,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.
The committee also found areas in which the department could strengthen procedures for projects using piscicides. It recommended the development of a Game and Fish Commission policy for the department to follow the EPA-endorsed procedures for piscicide applications. The policy was approved by the commission in January.
The mechanism that ensures compliance with the commission policy and incorporates the advisory committee’s recommendations is the department’s new Piscicide Treatment Planning and Procedures Manual. It provides standardized procedures for planning and implementing piscicide treatments, including provisions for public engagement, incorporation of industry best practices, and compliance with applicable internal procedures and state and federal laws.
“The manual provides a process that involves significant internal oversight, state and federally required procedures, public outreach, and peer review of piscicide treatment plans,” said Young. “These requirements will ensure treatments have minimal impacts to the environment and avoid impacts to human health and drinking water supplies.”
“Given the extensive science-based review and recommendations provided by the advisory committee, the new commission policy governing the use of rotenone, and the intensive processes required in the newly established manual, I am reassured that the use of this important tool can be done safely and responsibly, and have therefore lifted the moratorium on the department’s use of it in Arizona,” said Director Voyles.
For more information on rotenone, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/rotenone.shtml.
Citations issued for quagga contaminated boats
Invasive mussels discovered at Lake Powell decontamination station
Arizona Game and Fish officers have recently issued citations to two individuals who brought quagga mussel contaminated boats to Lake Powell, and citations are pending in a third case.
“Fortunately, in these instances the quagga mussels on the boats were discovered at Lake Powell’s decontamination station prior to launching,” said Tom McMahon, the invasive species coordinator for the Game and Fish Department.
One of the vessels had mussels on its anchor, which many people forget to clean, and the boat owner neglected to remove the plug before leaving Lake Pleasant, which is another violation.
“About a quarter of the boats showing up at Lake Powell with quagga mussels have been in violation due to mussels being attached to the anchor,” McMahon said.
McMahon added that these two incidents demonstrate why boaters coming from lakes such as Pleasant, Mead, Mohave, and Havasu that are infested with quagga mussels need to be conscientious about taking legally required proper precautions so they don’t move these invasive mollusks to an unaffected water, such as Powell or Bartlett Lake.
“It’s essential that boaters clean, drain and dry their boats each and every time they go boating anywhere, any time. Unfortunately, there are lots of aquatic invasive species that might hitchhike to another water on your boat or trailer,” McMahon said.
However, he added, those boating in waters listed as having aquatic invasive species, such as quagga and zebra mussels, by law must follow the prescribed decontamination procedures.
“Quite simply, it is against the law in Arizona to transport quagga or zebra mussels, and those found doing so can and probably will be cited,” McMahon pointed out.
For the most part, those legally required procedures are simple and straightforward.
Before leaving the vicinity of an aquatic invasive species listed water, such as Pleasant, Mead, Mohave or Havasu, the law requires that you:
Step 1: Clean and remove any clinging material such as plants, animals and mud from anchor, boat, motor and trailer.
Step 2: Pull your plug and drain the water from the bilge, livewell and any other compartments that could hold water. Also be sure to drain the water from the engine and engine cooling system.
Step 3: Ensure your watercraft and equipment are allowed to dry completely and out of the water for a minimum of seven days.
For more detailed information, check out www.azgfd.gov/ais.
“We’ve been asking boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats for years. It’s just a good practice to not only protect our precious water resources, but to protect your own boating investment. Most boaters have been pretty understanding and cooperative,” McMahon said.
Now when they boat at waters listed as having aquatic invasive species, such as Mead, Mohave, Havasu, and Pleasant, it is required by law. As McMahon tells everyone he contacts to remember, “Don’t Move a Mussel – Now it’s the Law”.
Sign up now for bighorn sheep workshop and Canyon Lake viewing tour
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with the Dolly Steamboat and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, is hosting a workshop for the public to view and learn more about one of Arizona’s iconic species -- desert bighorn sheep.
The workshop consists of two parts. The first is a classroom session at the Game and Fish Mesa office on Friday, July 13, from 7-9 p.m., where participants will learn about bighorn sheep and their natural history, management and historical significance. The office is located at 7200 E. University Drive in Mesa.
The second part of the workshop is a Canyon Lake boat tour aboard the Dolly Steamboat beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 14. The tour will provide participants an opportunity to view sheep in their native environment. Game and Fish wildlife biologists and members of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society will accompany the tour and provide information. The boat tour will last about three hours.
“In June, bighorn sheep stay pretty close to water,” said John Dickson, wildlife manager in the Canyon Lake District. “The hotter it is, the better the opportunity will be to see the sheep along the water’s edge.”
Space for the Saturday boat tour is limited to 139 people, the number of passengers the boat can hold. The cost is $30 per person and $27 for those over 60 years of age. To register, call the Dolly Steamboat at (480) 827-9144. Pre-registration is encouraged; walk-ins will only be able to join the tour if space is available.
Participants are strongly encouraged to attend the Friday classroom program to enhance the viewing opportunity the following day. To reserve your space for the classroom presentation, call Information/Education Program Manager Randy Babb at (480) 324-3546. The classroom program is limited to 70 people due to facility restrictions.
Boat tour participants are encouraged to bring a camera, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and binoculars. Snacks and drinks may be purchased from the Dolly.
“It will be hot on the lake,” Dickson advised, “but that’s when bighorn come down for a drink. There is limited shade on the boats, and the temperatures will likely be in the triple digits.”
Anyone with questions about the workshop may contact Randy Babb at (480) 324-3546 or e-mail email@example.com.
Comment deadline nears for reptile, raptor, amphibian and mollusk regulations
If you would like to provide comments on the draft 2013-2014 regulations for reptiles, raptors, crustaceans and mollusks, and amphibians, the deadline to submit is July 11, 2012.
If warranted, public meetings on the proposed changes to these commission orders may be held in Phoenix, Tucson and/or Flagstaff.
Most of the proposed changes being considered for the 2013-2014 commission orders involve compliance with a new commission rule that will become effective January 1, 2013. Another notable change is the removal of an open season for Aspidoscelis arizonae (Arizona whiptail).
To see the draft commission orders, visit the department’s website at http://azgfd.net/artman/publish/CallforComments.
For more information, call (623) 236-7500. To provide written comments, send correspondences to: Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, Arizona 85086, or by e-mail to: CommOrd25@azgfd.gov (Raptors); CommOrd41firstname.lastname@example.org (Amphibians and Reptiles); and CommOrd42@azgfd.gov (Crustaceans and Mollusks).
Regulations provide quick answers to boating equipment needs
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Lake Havasu City Police Department recently conducted an OUI and Safety Checkpoint at Site Six on Lake Havasu. While 34 percent of boaters had consumed alcohol, the top violations could have easily been avoided by having the required safety equipment.
Eight OUI arrests were made: two for operating a boat while being impaired and six for exceeding the Arizona legal limit of .08 blood-alcohol content. In addition, three citations were issued for underage consumption.
Jodi Niccum, law enforcement program supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Yuma office, said it is easy for boaters to avoid such citations. “Take a quick look at the regulations, which are free at our offices,” she explained. “Make sure you are operating a boat with the required safety equipment before leaving the dock. There are a lot of potential dangers, not the least of which is the sheer number of boats using a limited amount of space.”
Niccum expressed concern with the fact that 34 percent of operators had consumed alcohol.
“Alcohol and the heat are always a dangerous combination, regardless of blood-alcohol content,” Niccum said. “Just as with driving, boaters should assign a designated operator. Game and Fish also offers free boating education, which covers safety issues, regulations, and the required equipment prior to launch.”
Other violations at the checkpoint included five boats with insufficient life jackets, five with expired registration, five with a child under 12 not wearing a life jacket, and nine citations written for boaters not following the navigational rules.
For those interested in taking a boating education class, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.
Enter your best photos in the wildlife photo contest
Have you captured a fabulous wildlife photo? Would you like to share it with others who love Arizona wildlife? Submit it to our annual photo contest by the July 9 deadline.
Your photo could be showcased in the 2013 Arizona Wildlife Calendar, which will be included in the November–December issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. Winners also receive cash prizes and courtesy copies of the magazine. All pictures must be of Arizona wildlife and must be taken in Arizona. We’re looking for images of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish; no insects (including butterflies), please!
Some people have expressed concern about how photos are judged. The judging process is “blind,” meaning entrants are assigned a number and their pictures are evaluated anonymously. Personal information is not attached to images or revealed before the judging process begins.
Photos are evaluated on creativity, photographic quality, effectiveness in conveying the unique character of the subject, and whether or not submitted images meet basic size and formatting requirements.
Deadline for submissions to this year’s wildlife photo contest is July 9 at 5 p.m. MST. There is no fee to enter. Mark your calendar and start shooting!